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Interview with Oliver Welch, July 20, 2016

Richard B. Russell Library for Political Research and Studies, University of Georgia
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00:00:50 - Early life / Education

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Partial Transcript: Why don't we begin by asking you to tell us a little about yourself and growing up, I think, in Preston, Georgia?

Segment Synopsis: Welch talks about his early childhood growing up in Preston, Georgia. He talks about going to the Merchant Marine Academy before coming back to Georgia to finish college. Welch talks about working for Governor Carl Sanders while he was attending graduate school. Welch also became the state chairman of the Young Democrats. Welch also talks about how he has five doctorates in economics, quantitative analysis, accounting, organizational behavior, and administrative theory.

Keywords: Atlantic City; Berry College; Chicago; Ernest Davis; Georgia State; Houston Smith; J.B Fuqua; JC organization; Lyndon Johnson

00:15:59 - Working for Carl Sanders

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Partial Transcript: Let's get back to 1962. That was a landmark year in Georgia politics, can you tell us about that?

Segment Synopsis: Welch discusses Carl Sanders' gubernatorial campaign in 1962, explaining that 1962 was the year that the county unit system was eradicated, which he believes made the election of Sanders possible. Welch talks about working for Sanders during this campaign and discusses his relationship with Sanders after he became the governor. He says that Sanders put him on committees in education and he recalls writing a pamphlet for the Governor's Conference entitled "Georgia's Best Investment: Education." Welch also talks about being the Deputy State Superintendent of Schools under State Superintendent Jack Nix (1966-1977).

Keywords: Claude Purcell; JC; Reubin Askew; financial reporting; get out to vote campaign

00:25:16 - Director of the Bureau of State Planning and Development

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Partial Transcript: And as I said I thought I was going to leave, but then an unusual event came, and somebody got elected in the House- Lester Maddox.

Segment Synopsis: Welch discusses being appointed as the Head of the Bureau of State Planning and Development. He talks about how he inherited the Planning Division of the Department of Industry and Trade when he took the job. He says that he interpreted the Bureau of State Planning to be a comprehensive state wide planning agency. Welch remembers organizing a massive recruiting campaign in order to hire highly qualified people to work for the bureau.

Keywords: Lester Maddox; corporate planning system; department of defense; liberal; social issues

00:36:08 - Legislation in the Bureau of State Planning

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Partial Transcript: But during that same recruiting period, I had to spend a lot of time convincing people of what the State Planning Bureau's mission was.

Segment Synopsis: Welch talks about how a lot of his work for the Bureau of State Planning and Development was controversial, but he was always backed up by Gov. Maddox. Welch talks about the various bills that were passed on to the bureau by other departments, including family planning and a comprehensive health bill. Welch talks about appointing Jimmy Carter to the Planning and Development Advisory Committee and the Coastal Plains Advisory Committee.

Keywords: Bill Berso; Bill Lee; GA power; Georgia Tech; Lamar Plunkett; Russia 5 year plan; Sam Nunn; University of Tennessee; Zell Miller; county commission; office of economic opportunity; rapid rail system; transportation committee

00:49:17 - Regional committees

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Partial Transcript: Some point in the federal hierarchy, they set up at each region what they called a Regional Federal Coordinating Council.

Segment Synopsis: Welch says that he was appointed to be a representative on the Regional Federal Coordinating Council. He also talks about several other regional committees that were set up, such as the Appalachian Commission. He describes this as being the first effort to get agencies to work together.

Keywords: Bill Turner; North Carolina; Rural Development Center; South Carolina; Tifton, Georgia; blueberries; corn

00:53:05 - Bureau of State Planning and Community Affairs

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Partial Transcript: So you were involved, early, in the creation of what became the Georgia Department of Community Affairs.

Segment Synopsis: Welch discusses the two committees that helped pass legislation in 1970 to create the Bureau of State Planning and Community Affairs, which were the Urban Affairs Committee in the Georgia House of Representatives ran by Elliott Levitas and the Urban Affairs Committee in the Senate ran by Lamar Plunkett. Welch talks about the creation of a Bi Annual Development Program and the Airplane and Development Commission. Welch says that he was disappointed when President Carter abolished the planning bureau.

Keywords: budget; future forecast; policy board

01:00:24 - Creating a state wide plan for 159 counties

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Partial Transcript: I want to ask a lingering question that has been asked many, many times over many, many years. Georgia has 159 counties, how in the world do you plan a comprehensive state wide approach to the future when you have 159 counties?

Segment Synopsis: Welch talks about how it would be impossible to come up with state wide plan at the local level because Georgia has so many counties and cities, but it is possible to create a state level plan for all the different state agencies. Welch discusses the importance of strategically placing "growth centers" throughout Georgia to prevent people from flocking to Atlanta.

Keywords: Cherokee County; Fulton County; education; healthcare; junior college; state parks; vocational education

01:07:50 - Career accomplishments

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Partial Transcript: Well as you look back on your career, which certainly has been very successful, of what are you most proud?

Segment Synopsis: Welch discusses what he is most proud of accomplishing throughout his career, saying that he believes he made a lasting impact on education. He also talks about an intergovernmental council meeting that he attended during Maddox's term, where the first Bi Annual Development program was created.

Keywords: Jimmy Carter; Lamar Plunkett; Sloppy Floyd; World Future Society; agencies; failing school systems